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South Carolina's keys to victory

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001


1. MANUFACTURE BIG PLAYS: The job of playmaker was left vacant by the suspension of leading rusher Derek Watson. No back has his explosiveness and speed. Of the new tailbacks, Andrew Pinnock is a bowling ball of a back, and converted wideout Ryan Brewer is solid, but that's it. Coach Lou Holtz and his staff need to find a way to generate big yards. Wideout Jermale Kelly could give them that yardage.

2. STOP THE RUN: Ohio State's rushing attack is not as strong as in years past, and if South Carolina's defense can contain Derek Combs and Jonathan Wells, the burden falls on quarterback Steve Bellisari to beat the Gamecocks. Bellisari struggled down the stretch, and his receiving corps is banged up.

3. DON'T KICK THEMSELVES: The Gamecocks have been atrocious in field-goal attempts, coverting 10 of 17. That may force USC to take a few more risks, say, going for it on fourth and goal. Converting third downs becomes more critical for USC, which cannot count on an easy three points.

4. WORK THAT HOLTZ MAGIC: South Carolina's best weapon may be on the sideline. Given nearly a month to prepare, Holtz has personally directed the game plans on offense and defense, so who knows what hidden ace the legendary coach has up his sleeve? What isn't magic is this: Holtz pushed the team hard in practice every day last week. Ohio State cannot afford to make mistakes, because USC's fundamentally sound squad certainly won't.

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